YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to discuss activities of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) whose current secretary general is facing criminal charges in Armenia.

The Kremlin reported that the two men discussed bilateral relations between their countries and their “interaction in common integration structures and the CSTO framework in particular.” It did not elaborate, saying only that the phone conversation was initiated by Pashinian.

An official Armenian readout of the phone call said Putin and Pashinian discussed “practical themes relating to the work of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.” It too gave no details.

The CSTO secretary general, Yuri Khachaturov, is Armenia’s former top army general who was charged late last month over the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan. Russia strongly criticized an Armenian law-enforcement agency’s decision to prosecute him. Following the criticism Khachaturov was allowed to return to Moscow and continue to perform his CSTO duties for the time being.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also scoffed at the Armenian government’s efforts to replace Khachaturov by another Armenian secretary general. It said that Yerevan must formally “recall” Khachaturov before trying to pick his replacement. It remains to be seen whether Russia will agree to the appointment of another Armenian head of the military alliance of six former Soviet republics.

Putin and Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed the matter when they met in the Kazakh city of Aktau on August 12. Nazarbayev said that it “has become a problem.”

The CSTO member states agreed in 2015 that their representatives will take turns to run the organization on a rotating basis. They appointed Khachaturov as secretary general in April 2017 after almost two years of delay reportedly resulting from Kazakhstan’s and Belarus’s reluctance to have an Armenian hold the position because of their warm ties with Azerbaijan.

 

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